Note: This article is kid-friendly, but like any article dealing with difficult subjects it should be read with a trusted adult who can answer any questions that may arise.
In the United States and many other countries around the world, people are protesting against the mistreatment of Black people, especially by (mostly white) police officers, whose job is to serve and protect them.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the US and around the world are going into the streets holding signs and marching to raise awareness of the problems faced by people in the Black community.
For many decades, Black people have been treated unfairly compared with people of European descent and others. Often they have not been given the same advantages–for instance, not hired for jobs or unfairly harassed.
Time and again, Black people have protested this unfair treatment. While there have been some improved changes and accountability in policing, there continue to be many challenges.
Then on May 25, a Black man named George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They were arresting him for a relatively minor alleged offense. He did not deserve the treatment he got and he did not deserve to die.
Because it was caught on video, everyone around the world saw the brutally unfair treatment of Floyd at the hands of the police.
The four police officers who killed George Floyd were fired from their jobs and have been charged with murder (in one case) or aiding and abetting murder or manslaughter (in three cases).
After Floyd’s death, as well as other recent racist incidents (in the US and other countries including Canada) many protests took place. Hundreds of thousands of people in many countries have marched to raise awareness about racism against Black people and the need to find a solution.
Many protesters use the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” (A slogan is a phrase or, in this case, a hashtag when it is used on social media: #BlackLivesMatter.)
Many of the protests in the United States and around the world have been peaceful. Some of the protests, especially in the US, became violent.
Many peaceful protests have been held before. In 2017, American football player Colin Kaepernick and others began “taking a knee” during the American national anthem. That meant they knelt down before their football games. They did it to protest Black people being treated unfairly by police. It was a peaceful way to protest a very important issue.
However, Kaepernick and others who “took a knee” faced enormous opposition to this peaceful action, including from Donald Trump, the president of the United States, as well as many of the owners of the football teams. (Those owners this week admitted they had been wrong.)
Often, there are many sides to complex issues. However, there is never “another side” to racism. Racism–judging someone by the colour of their skin–is always wrong.
On the weekend, Minneapolis’ city council (the politicians who run the city where George Floyd was killed) said their police force needs to be dismantled (taken apart). They want a new system of law enforcement and new laws to better protect Black people.
Some cities are having discussions about defunding (taking money from the budget of) police forces, and using that money to create a better system of policing that is more fair for everyone.
On Saturday, however, Minneapolis’ mayor, Jacob Frey, said he is opposed to abolishing (ending) the police force completely. People around the world are following this situation carefully to see what will be done.
The protests are continuing and people are discussing what can be done to make things better for Black people. Many people of all races are listening to what Black people have to say, so they can better understand and support them.
Thank you to Nadine Chevolleau and Natasha Henry for their invaluable assistance in developing this article.
Image by Patrick Behna from Pixabay.
THINK AND DISCUSS
1) This has been a traumatic time for Black people. Non-Black people have become more concerned and are troubled by what they are learning about the experiences that Black people have with the police. In your opinion, what are some things that need to happen now? How should they happen (for instance, “who should do what?”)?
2) Some racist people are posting bad comments on articles about the Black Lives Matter movement. How do you think social media platforms, like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, should handle racist comments?
3) What does “black lives matter” mean to you?
“115 Ways to Donate in Support of Black Lives and Communities of Color”: https://nymag.com/strategist/article/where-to-donate-for-black-lives-matter.html
Teen Vogue‘s list of excellent books by Black authors: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/books-by-black-authors-2020
“19 Organizations Supporting Black Canadians to Donate to (Help fight anti-Black racism in Canada)”: https://www.ellecanada.com/culture/society/9-organizations-supporting-black-canadians-to-donate-to
Canada’s National Observer (an investigative journalism organization) posted this excellent interview with activist Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. (Her explanation of the defunding of police forces is at 10:36.) https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/04/video/sandy-hudson-black-lives-matter-canada-and-defunding-police
Toronto Star column by Tiffany Gooch, “The time for slow and steady action to tackle anti-Black racism is over”: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/06/07/the-time-for-slow-and-steady-action-to-tackle-anti-black-racism-is-over.html
Take a look at We Rise Together, an action plan by the Peel District School Board to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the maginalization experienced by Black students in Peel board schools: http://www.werisetogether.ca/
In 2017, Teaching Kids News wrote this article about Colin Kaepernick and the “take-a-knee” movement: